Health impact of disaster-related stress on pregnant women living in the affected area of the Noto Peninsula earthquake in Japan


*Yuri Hibino, PhD, Department of Environmental and Preventive Medicine, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kanazawa University 13-1 Takaramachi, Kanazawa, Japan. Email:


Aims:  The present study assessed the health impact of stress on women who were pregnant during, or immediately after, a major earthquake and were living in the disaster area. Inherent resistance against the stress induced by the earthquake was also assessed.

Methods:  The panel study consisted of 99 women who provided responses before and after delivery (response rate, 77.9%). Psychological impact was assessed on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), and stress resistance was assessed on the Sense of Coherence Scale (SOC).

Results:  In adjusted multivariate models, the significant earthquake factor that predicted postnatal depression (EPDS) was ‘existing anxiety about an earthquake’ (β = 0.27, P = 0.01) and ‘parity’ (β = −0.26, P = 0.02). The SOC during pregnancy significantly moderated between ‘existing anxiety about an earthquake’ and ‘EPDS’ (β = −0.21, P = 0.02). During pregnancy the EDPS was a significant predictor of a physical abnormality during pregnancy or childbirth (odds ratio, 1.21; 95% confidence interval: 1.04–1.41). The SOC during pregnancy did not moderate between a physical abnormality and earthquake-related stress.

Conclusions:  Provision of an adequate support system and improvement of the SOC of young women affected by a disaster may be two ways of reducing the deleterious effects of disaster-related stress on maternal well-being.